The Eucharist: Receiving God’s love in humility

KOTA KINABALU: In his address to the faithful who attended the recent Holy Thursday Mass at St Simon Catholic Church Likas, here, parish rector Fr Cosmas Lee reflected on the institution of the Eucharist, humility in serving others and on being served.

“In the earliest accounts of the Eucharist, Jesus took bread and wine, said the blessing, broke the bread, gave the cup and said, ‘this is my body given for you; this is my blood poured out for you’,” the rector said in his homily.

“The Gospel tells us what this Eucharist is, what this self-giving, sacrificial giving of Himself is to His disciples. Jesus explained it by an example of washing the feet of His disciples.”

In commemorating the gift of the Eucharist, Fr Cosmas told the congregation to focus on Simon Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ gesture to wash his feet who infamously said, ‘never will you wash my feet’.

Fr Cosmas Lee raising the host and chalice at the Holy Thursday Mass, recently. – pix by Douglas Yu

“The other 11 disciples, which include Judas Iscariot, didn’t seem to have said anything. But to have the Lord washing my feet, I will feel unworthy. I will not receive that kind of humble service for me,” he said. “It is your reaction, my reaction.”

“The Lord loved us to the end and He offers that incredible love, but we withdraw because it’s too loving for us. We must look at the Lord – the Lord did not just wash the feet of Simon Peter but He also washed the feet of Judas.

“Nobody is so unworthy. We must allow our feet to be washed, otherwise it would be in vain going to the Eucharist again and again. We must come knowing how filthy our feet are. We must believe that ‘the Lord still loves me, He will wash my feet’.”

He said, often, it is more difficult to be loved than to love. “It is more difficult to receive than to give. The Eucharist begins with our receiving the Lord in His love and humble service. We must take it because He died that we may understand that there is no condition for Him to come and wash our feet.

“To celebrate the Eucharist, to love so as to die and then rise with Jesus, means that we must be like Jesus as well. Having received the undeserving washing of feet from the Lord, we too must do the same.

The altar servers, ministers and seminarian Dominic Tan assisting Fr Cosmas during the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament from the main church to the chapel at the end of the Holy Thursday service.

Fr Cosmas said in his years of priesthood, it is not uncommon to find people who would only serve those who serve them and are good to those who are good to them.

“But this is not what we celebrate today in the Lord’s Supper. This must become the motivation of our life when we say it’s the culmination of our life, we must be real, not just in Church but in everything we do,” he said.

“What merits can you claim if you’re good to those who love you? That’s not Christian love – Christian love is God’s love who gave Himself to all, including the traitors on the table and then washing their feet. That’s love.

“Tonight is the night when we look at the Lord, when we beg the Lord for the grace of believing His unconditional love for us, precisely because we’re sinners. When we get our feet washed, remember that we must wash other people’s feet – the dirtier the better.

“Let’s thank the Lord for the gift of His love, humble service unto death, that we have such a wonderful privilege that we celebrate at every Holy Mass and sacrifice of the Mass,” Fr Cosmas said, concluding his sermon.

After the homily, Fr Cosmas washed the feet of several young people from the Sunday School as part of the highlight of the service that night.

The congregation looking on as young people bring gifts during the offertory.

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